Pope Gregory VII Biography
(Head of the Catholic Church from 1073 to 1085)
Born In: Sovana, Italy
Pope Gregory VII was the pope from 1073 to 1085. Counted amongst the greatest of medieval popes, he was beatified by Pope Gregory XIII in 1584 and canonized in 1728 by Pope Benedict XIII. He is best remembered for the part he played in the Investiture Controversy and the reforms he proposed which later became known as the Gregorian Reforms. Following his dispute with Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor, he was successful in deposing Henry, becoming the first pope to depose a crowned ruler. This revolutionary act affirmed the primacy of papal authority and led to the establishment of the new canon law governing the election of the pope by the College of Cardinals. Born as Hildebrand Bonizi into a family of humble origins, he became interested in religion at a young age and received his education from his uncle who was abbot of a monastery on the Aventine Hill. He went on to become the deacon and papal administrator during the papacy of Pope Leo IX and greatly strengthened his position within the church over the following years. By the time Pope Alexander II became the head of the church, Hildebrand had consolidated his position as a very powerful religious figure. Pope Alexander II died in 1073 and Hildebrand succeeded him as Pope Gregory VII.